Paying Tribute to Someone Special at the Funeral

Funerals, memorial services, and/or life celebration events are excellent opportunities for paying tribute to someone special.

Let’s consider ways to incorporate their hobbies, pastimes, and passions.

These thirteen tribute ideas, expanding on Housing for Senior’s unofficial list of the top 10 hobbies for people over 65, will provide you with specific examples of hobby-based tributes for funerals and memorial services.

Even if your loved one’s favorite niche or hobby isn’t on this list, you’ll be sure to find plenty of inspiration to personalize the service in a very special way.

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Memorial Service Ideas
Floating memorial candles can serve as a reminder of many water activities

Special Tributes for the Funeral

Times are changing, and the notion of a “traditional” service is becoming a thing of the past. Families often seek ways to make a funeral service more personal and true to the individual in both content and tone.

If some of these ideas seem gaudy, silly, or irreverent, please feel free to include those thoughts in the comments so that families searching for memorial service ideas can carefully weigh the message and tone of each idea to see if it will work for their situation.

And remember that funerals – whether they be “traditional” or “alternative” or anything in between – are just as unique as the individuals they are honoring.

Most of these special tributes can be showcased at the memorial by including ideas like these, which we won’t include in the lists under each individual hobby below:

So, without further ado, here are 13 creative tributes for the funeral based on their favorite hobbies.

13 Niche Tributes for Someone Special

1. Boating

Boating or Sailing Appetizers
Serve boating-themed appetizers at the reception

Boating is a fun and active hobby, favored by many for the opportunity to get out onto the water and experience the wind in your hair the splash of the waves on your face, and the strenthening activities of managing a boat on the open water.

If you want to incorporate your loved one’s boating hobby into the memorial service, here are a few ideas:

  • Display a large piece of cloth sail for participants to sign or write a message
  • Have a memorial service at the beach, dock, or on a boat
  • Play a meditative ocean audio track before, at a reflective time during, or after the service
  • If the decedent is cremated, get a boating cremation urn for display during the service
  • Display a model boat made by or similar to the one used by your loved one

2. Golf

Golf Memorial Service Ideas
Use golf clubs to create a gorgeous funeral flower display

Golf is an extraordinarily popular sport in the USA, and if your loved one was a golfer there are plenty of ways to include a golfing theme as a part of the memorial service. Here are some to get you started:

  • Have the memorial event at the country club
  • Give out personalized golf balls as memorial keepsakes
  • Set out their golf club bag on display
  • Set up a memorial table with memorabilia such as scorecards, photos, collectibles, etc.
  • If the decedent is cremated, get a golfing cremation urn for display during the service
  • If there will be an open casket, have a golf club in their hands (be very sensitive about this one though)
  • Commission a portrait of your golfer

3. Fishing

Here in the Northwest, fishing is just about everyone’s pastime. If your loved one loved to fish, you can showcase that in the memorial service in many ways, including:

  • Have a memorial or scattering service at a favored fishing spot
  • Serve a favorite type of fish at the reception
  • Donate fishing starter kits to local kids in need, and display the kits at the service
  • If the decedent is cremated, get a fishing cremation urn for display during the service
  • Display fishing poles and photo of all the “great catches”

More: Fishing Memorial Gifts & Tributes

4. Antiquing

Wooden Cedar Urn
Choose a memorial urn that reflects their love of antiques

Many people get into antiquing as an expression of their love of decorating, or a penchance for the style of a particular era, or as a fun way to make a little side money as they discover, fix up, and resell antique furniture and collectibles. If your loved one was into antiques, here are some ways to include an antiquing hobby in the service:

  • Use small antique knickknacks as centerpieces for reception tables
  • Create an old fashioned “room” filled with favorite pieces in the entry way
  • Use an antique scrapbook as the guestbook
  • Print programs on actual or imitation antique paper
  • If the deceased is going to be cremated, use a premium wood urn which suits their style
  • Add antique hinges, handles, or other accents to the coffin or urn

5. Photography

Memorial Ideas for Photographers
Find interesting ways to display the photographer’s best shots

There are many ways people engage in photography as a hobby these days. The styles are endless – smartphone and Instagram, wildlife and nature, wedding and portrait, sports and travel, family gatherings and photoblogs, recipes and crafts, and many more.

Whatever their equipment, style, or preference, there are many ways to pay tribute to their love of photography:

6. Model Building

Assemble a model during the service
Display or even build a model during the memorial service

Many people enjoy the calm, peaceful activity of building scale models. Popular types include trains, classic cars, WWII airplanes, boats, ships-in-a-bottle, mini land and cityscapes, LEGO sets, and so much more.

If your loved one found joy in model building, here are some suggestions on how this can be “modeled” at the memorial:

  • Give out mini model train sets for guests to build
  • Display select models built by your loved one
  • Give each attendee a part of a model set (for instance, a tiny model car or tree) and have them place it in a model scene
  • If the deceased built model trains, use a train cremation urn in place of a plain urn
  • Create a train-track timeline of major life events and incorporate models begun or completed as anchor points

7. Gardening

Memorial Service for Hobby
Use home-grown arrangements instead of store-bought funeral flowers

There is nothing quite like a morning spent in the warm spring sun, working hard to nurture living plants and then enjoying the fruits of your labors as flower bloom or vegetables ripen.

If your loved one kept a garden as a favorite hobby, here are some memorial service ideas for including this pastime in unique ways:

8. Volunteering

Ideas for memorial services
Incorporating your loved one’s volunteer efforts presents a beautiful picture of their life

Volunteering is a very rewarding hobby, and takes many forms depending on the individual interests and personality of the individual.

Whether it was a well-known organization such as the Red Cross, involvement at the local church, school, or food bank, or devotion to a little-known cause, the way a person chooses to spend their time speaks volumes about their life.

Here are some ideas for incorporating charitable causes into the service:

9. Genealogy

Memorial Service Ideas
Use the family gathering at the memorial service to continue the genealogy

Tracing your ancestry is a fascinating hobby for many people. What better time to fill in a few missing links than when all the family is gathered at the funeral?

Honor the memory of your loved one by encouraging the gathered family to add, review, or remember the family history in these ways:

  • Hand out genealogy cards for family members to contribute what they know of family history
  • Use a roll of paper to trace out the family genealogy on a wall… this will be a great conversation starter
  • If you’re planning on continuing the genealogical research, ask family members to bring photos, birth certificates, and other documents
  • Use a Polaroid camera to have guests take a photo of themselves, and write their relation on the back

10. Knitting

Life Celebration Ideas for Knitting
Create centerpieces for reception tables using yarn and knitting needles

After the downturn in the economy combined with the rise of handmade retail sites such as Etsy, knitting is once again a popular hobby.

If your loved one was constantly clicking those needles together and churning out hats, scarves, mittens, and more, here are some memorial tribute ideas that involve knitting:

  • Give out knit items as keepsakes
  • Use knitting needles and yarn as reception table centerpieces
  • Have some knitting friends make knitted flowers such as remembrance poppies
  • Create a knit slip cover for the plastic temporary urn (similar to this)
  • Use doilies made by your loved one, perhaps beneath the urn or centerpieces
  • Do a balloon release, and have each guest tie a small piece of yarn to the balloon

11. Reading

Memorial Service Ideas
Use a book-shaped cremation urn to symbolize their love of reading

They loved the feel of an old book, and the satisfaction of turning the last page on a great read. They have a Kindle or e-reader, but much prefer the tactile interaction of the real thing.

For the special someone who was an avid reader, honor that love of books by paying tribute in these ways:

  • Give out personalized memorial bookmarks
  • Display favorite books at the front and in other various places
  • Set up shelves full of books and encourage attendants to take and read a book in your loved one’s memory
  • If the decedent will be cremated, use a book-shaped urn at the memorial service
  • Have each attendee sign the guest book by listing their favorite book
  • Decorate using prints of quotes from their favorite books

Related: How to Design, Personalize, and Print Memorial Bookmarks

12. Baking

Creative ways to honor your loved one

Cooking and baking are time-honored hobbies involving the one thing everybody loves: food. Baking, especially, brings back warm memories for many of us, with the smell of bread or cookies permeating the house on a cold and rainy day.

If your loved one was a whiz in the kitchen, here are a some creative ways to incorporate cooking or baking into the memorial service:

  • If they were known for a particular food or recipe, serve that at the reception
  • Give a mini bag of home-baked cookies or other treat to each guest on their way out
  • Display their famous handwritten recipe engraved on a cutting board
  • Pass out cards with special recipes
  • Stream a baking show in the background during the reception

13. Sports

Memorials for Popular Hobbies

Many people love to play, watch, and follow sports. Here are some unique ideas to help you honor their passion for sports like football, baseball, tennis, and more.

  • Have favorite team colors tie the decorations together
  • Ask attendees to wear team colors to the memorial to honor their memory
  • Many sports fans also collect memorabilia; display these at the entrance or front
  • Get a sports-themed funeral flower arrangement made
  • Use a casket featuring the colors of their favorite sports team
  • Use a picture frame urn to showcase a favorite sports photo

More Tribute Ideas for the Memorial Service

What are some memorial service ideas you’ve seen, done, or thought of? Please share them in the comments below for inspiration to fellow funeral planners!

We have lots more ideas here:

Read Next: Funeral Planning Checklist (Free Printable)

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